Jonathan Livingston Seagull

1 January 2017

Belonging Speech- Jonathan Livingston Seagull The concept of belonging at first glance seems simple. On one level, society is sets and subsets and more subsets of people belonging to all manner of associations. The human race itself is one such group to which we all belong. A sense of belonging seems to be fundamental to our existence, as we strive to belong to all sorts of groups. The more you look at the concept of belonging , the more complex it becomes.

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The concept of belonging is examined in detail, and therefore complexity, in the short novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Key Concepts Choosing not to belong or not being able to just because of the way you are * On the simplest level, you either belong or you don’t. Jon, belonging to flock. Expresses discontentedness, “ as a poor limited seagull” * Jon is willing to fail in order to succeed, in this sense he  not to belong. Jon tries to behave like the flock, tries to just fly to eat like his brothers, but this isn’t really to be a part of the flock, it is more to please his parents. He decides that he would rather fly than eat but he assumes that if he is happy, and accomplishes what he wants to accomplish, he will be accepted, he is naive to the fact that the rest of his flock does not care if he can fly fat, or perform acrobatics, they jut want to eat, and only fly to eat. That’s just how seagulls are. Bach uses literary techniques such as metaphors to exhibit certain concepts of belonging to explore its complexity. His wings were like ragged bars of lead, but the weight of failure was even heavier on his back (shows Jon’s view on failure is different to his flock’s and his parent’s, his dad seeing flying as just a means to eat “The reason you fly is to eat” * ‘Force one…more…single…inch…’ this quote shows Jonathan’s sheer want, or need, to succeed no matter the cost.

Even if it alienates him from his flock Belonging to one group but being shunned from the other * You can belong to one thing and not to another, such as Jon being cast from his flock but then he is taken into a group of others like him, others that want to fly * Religious theme- Bach writes about Jonathan’s life, giving a sense that Jonathan moves to the next stage of life. Religion has strong roots in belonging. Every religion is the same.

If you believe this, or do that, you are allowed into this place where everything is perfect, “heaven”. * Bach displays the importance of belonging to your family as Jon feels so at home with this groups of birds is heaven, or the next life, but he still has the need to return to his flock, to his parents, where he was born Being cast out from a group but then being accepted to that same group when they want something from you * When he makes a breakthrough one day, the elders summon him.

He assumes it is to congratulate him but he is naive and seems at first oblivious to the fact that the rest of his flock only want to eat, not fly, and he is banished from the flock for not constraining to the rules of their society. * Jon perfects his flying, he comes back to the flock because he feels that, even though he was banished, that he still belongs to the flock * The flocks view on Jon’s wanting to fly is different from the previous time he showed them his flying. They too want to fly like him and soon after his arrival back to his flock; other gulls are begging him to teach them to fly. His talent in flying causes amazement in the flocks and they accept him because of this, even though the flock discarded him because of this very fact, coming back to the idea that you can belong and not belong because of the very same thing * The flock apparently does not accept Jon and his flying prowess at first glace, but the more they witnessed his flight capabilities, gulls started to go to Jon in need of teaching. Only a few gulls at first, but people, and gulls, have a tendency to follow others.

It was only when the majority of this flock came to Jon that he was completely accepted. Bach uses this notion to show how, in relation to acceptance, majority rules. Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull displays many concepts of belonging, but the more and more you look at belonging, or not belonging, you realise how complex it really is. There are so many levels. Speaking to you today, with only this short time limit, I have only scratched the surface of the story of belonging, displaying how very complex it is. By Byron Wicken

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